Lord of Winter

One of the worst things about the Christianization of Europe was that many of the facets of the Old Gods were erased from memory, or disguised very deeply in folklore. Odin’s facets are one of the most attested in the lore, however. Just look at His names! There are over 200. They all refer to His various domains of knowledge, magic, war, fury, kingship, seidh, death, etc… and then there are two, Jólnir and Jölfuðr. They mean “Yule figure” and “Yule Father” respectively, referencing to His role of Lord of the Wild Hunt. I’ve often seen Odin in connection to evergreens and plants of winter, which is all UPG, but He does seem to have an affinity towards spruce and yew. I’ve also felt that this also extends to fir and pine as well.

Evergreens like firs were traditionally brought in ancient Germanic households during Yuletide to mark everlasting life in the snowy infertile season and as a reminder than green growing plants and crops would come soon. And Odin is Master of Yule, like Frau Holda is Queen of Yule. Some heathens have remarked that they feel Odin more strongly during the autumn/winter months, and I think that His domains correspond more with the nature of the colder seasons. His frost giant blood too may have a role. Also, there are plenty of storms in fall and winter, and storms and piercing, howling winds are also one of His facets. In fact, Lord of storms and wind may be His earliest facet perceived by Germanic peoples, as I’ve heard from several heathens. The etymology of his his perhaps derives from the proto-Germanic word *wodanaz, which means “fury” or “rage”. What’s more furious than the winds of storms?

Odin has His darker facets (and dark doesn’t mean bad!), and so that reflects His connection to winter as well. In Germanic countries, winter is pretty damn dark, and the sun hardly rises during winter in northern Scandinavia. So, when I got the inspiration to call Him “Lord of Winter,” I saw that He said I was correct-He IS Lord of Winter. There are other Lords and Ladies of winter in Germanic lore, like Ullr (Odin’s son), and Skadi, and I’m sure several frost giants have taken the title too, but I believe they serve as different functions of winter. Frost giants are the bodies of ice and snow, Ullr rules over skiing and hunting in particular, and Odin… well, I think He rules over the shrieking, howling madness that can accompany a fierce winter storm that leaves the unawares and unexposed bare and frozen. Odin sweeps away all that’s not necessary to your core, bare essence, and that’s what a fierce winter can do.

Odin is also draugadrottinn, Lord of the Dead. Commonly in Europe, the start and the thick of winter marked a time when the Dead were more active in the land of the living, which is why we have holidays like Samhain and Winternights. It’s easy to see why. In northern Europe, deciduous trees and shrubs have shed their leaves, annual plants die from frost and snow, and perennials hide their life deep underground. Some animals are awake and walk about, and others hibernate. Hibernation is a bit like a little death in that body temperature, metabolism, and heart rate go down in such a way where if the animal were to experience that state in an awake and warm-weather month, it’d probably die. Many forms of life in winter store their energy, saving it for the explosion of spring. For those life forms that do not hibernate, well… there’s a good chance they may die in the cold and snow, which is what happened to many of our ancestors. Any livestock not expected to survive winter were slaughtered and their meat preserved for the people. For Europeans in their agricultural years, they had to ration their stores to survive the winter and they couldn’t grow more grain during that time. To these ancestors, winter meant death was never far away.

Odin as Lord of Yule and Death would mean there’s a likely chance He is also Lord of Winter. It also makes sense, given His way of demanding you to give up the things that do not serve you in your personal and spiritual life. Winter does that too… it can be quiet, peaceful, and contemplative, or stormy and frightening, but either way, it exposes your innermost nature and your core needs and wants. It strips and simplifies, yet builds up.

Thank you, Lord of Winter, for all that You have done. Hail the necessary sacrifices you have made.

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